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What was the first piece you ever made?

I still have the first piece I ever made, almost 40 years ago. A
piece of nephrite jade in a silver ring made in my father's garage
from reading books, using garage tools - slip joint pliers... 

I’ve long thought this would be a really FUN thread, so since John
brought it up…What was the first piece you ever made? How did it
turn out? Do you still have it?

My brother was supposed to bring beads back from CHina for me, but
brought cabs by mistake instead. Had no idea how to set them so I
started reading and figured out how to fabricate a setting for one
of the cabs. So first piece was a pendant, a round carnelian cab set
into a sterling bezel cup with a twisted wire soldered around it.
That was 6 yrs ago and it’s right here on my desk & I still wear it
all the time. (Thanks bro!)

My first piece was a ring set with a purple agate my parents
collected at Burro Creek, Arizona. The stone was the first one I ever
cut and polished and it came out kind of bean shaped.

I made the ring in a class at the Arizona Mining and Mineral museum
with a simple bezel setting and a band of double-half-round wire, all
silver. It’s sitting in my desk drawer as I type this.


This sounds like a fun thread. I have 3 types of first pieces.

First I have a silver necklace with silver square wire bars between
jump rings for connections. I set a small black pearl inside 2 wire
circles. I still have it and I look at it periodically to realize
the bravery I had when I created it in the first place in class.

My second piece is my first piece of cloisonne enamel set on a
silver backing that I reticulated. I didn’t know how to join the
reticulated silver to the enamel piece set in silver so I rivited
them together. That was alot of fun and I look back at that enamel
and think “why don’t I do anything that involved again?”

My third, was my first venture into using gold after many years of
silver. Boy I melted pieces of gold on that one. Little did I know
then that both metals heat so very differently. But you have to make
mistakes to learn and grow.

jennifer friedman

Well, it wasn’t the very first piece but certainly among the first
dozen. Being that I’ve made thousands since, I think it qualifies,

Back in the day when I was teaching myself jewelry making my day job
was rehabilitating a civil war era New England village that was
purchased by the actress June Havoc. One Christmas I gave her a
collar I made to suggest a bandana worn in a knot about the neck,
jaunty looking. A few months later I see her pic on the cover of
Variety Magazine wearing my piece. Shortly after that I was invited
to attend the New York premier of the movie the Variety pic was

Soooo, climbing out of the limo, dressed to the nines, with a
refined English young lady on my arm, flashbulbs creating a staccato
series of nameless faces popping out from the crowd, glitz,
intoxicating. Then afterward supping and champagning at The Oak Room
in The Waldorf while a Viennese violinist wandered about.

Life is funny, especially since the weekend before, I was teargassed
by the New Hampshire State Police during a midnight motorcycle riot,
all sweaty and breathless from dodging nightsticks.

The piece was maybe not so special but thanks for the chance to

I can’t even remember the first piece of jewelry I made. It was way
back in the early 70’s in a very cool high school class. We could do
all kinds of crafts from leather to pottery. But jewelry caught my
attention, and never left. My Mom still has some of my first rings. A
turquoise ring, and a black onyx and mother of pearl ring. I still
have a silver tube canister pill box I made. I would be still proud
today to make a perfectly round tube with a good fitting lid like the
one I did when I was 17.Good thread Carol. Janine in hot Redding Ca,
where the fires are almost contained.

My first piece was a necklace with a shadow Love in the center. The
entire necklace was hearts joined together and the word LOVE had
another love shadowing it. It turned out really well.

The second piece I ever made was my ring. It is a gold angel ring.
There is a 6.5 carat Mystic Topaz and on each side of it is a
Guardian Angel and the angels are holding a rope (it represents my
life line) I made this ring after I had actually died and was above
watching everything going on. I was being held up on each side by a
presence. This ring never leaves my finger. I have made it though 3
cancers, 2 heart attacks, one heart failure and even more recently
emergency brain surgery (which I was told if I had waited 24 hours I
would no longer be on this earth) So it really means something to me
and since I made it I have been convinced to make it in silver for
customers who hear my story and do believe in angels. Now I am
emotional again, sorry about that. Leslie

I still have my first piece. It was done in a high school jewelry
class (they had them back then), it was an overlay band ring. I have
another piece from that class, a pendant, shaped like a flower with
narrow petals hanging down with a ebony teardrop in the middle. The
instructor said that it was pretty good for a newbie to sawing with a
jewelers saw and she put it in an exhibition of her students’ work
where she attended college. She was a teaching intern, going for her
masters. This was in 1972. Ah, those happy memories!


My first piece of jewelry still hangs on the walls of Metalwerx.
It’s part of my history, and three milestones of my life.

First as an adult education student creating a pierced triangle with
small decorative cuts, a set carnelian stone with a bezel, and long
hand hammered 12 ga round wire chain links, with a hole drilled on
each end and for which I made jump rings soldered every one.

The second being a teacher, learning from my mistakes and successes
and acknowledging the wisdom to teach others and watch them learn.

The third is Metalwerx, building the school so others could learn,
create and pass on themselves.

Who would think, looking up at a crude silver pendant that so much
history, so much passion would contain all that I have learned…from
all of you in one piece of jewelry.

I like it on the wall. Nobody knows whose it is and there is no name
that sits by it. I know and the walls of Metalwerx knows and I don’t
need to own it anymore.


I too still have the first piece that I made… sort of. In the late
70’s-early 80’s, I made my first gold piece; a ring for my husband
with a boulder opal. A couple years later, it fell off his finger in
a snowy parking lot. He found the ring a few days later when the snow
melted. Unfortunately, a car had run over it (at least once), the
opal was missing and the ring was mangled. I kept the ring (and the
husband). It (the ring, not the husband) is sitting in a tray of
pieces that need “attention”. … in other words, I don’t want to
think about any of them (again, the rings, not the husband) very


An interesting question with some interesting answers.

I was fascinated with jewelry at a VERY early age [pre-school] and
created bracelets, rings and crowns for myself out of cereal box
cardboard wrapped with aluminum foil for a shine. None of those
pieces exist but at 5 years old I was problem solving the mechanics
of how to achieve what I wanted. The pieces do not exist but the
memory of creating them does.

As for a documented piece, it would have to be a silver charm I made
for my sister during my early teenage years. I had no jewelry tools
but did have access to my fathers workshop. I hammered a quarter
into sheet [they were silver then] then filed the shape. After
drilling a hole it was complete. She still has it 5 decades later.

Orchid Rules
Karla from Sunny So. California

High school machine shop class – enameled copper earrings.


I still have my first as well. It is an abstracted sillhouette of a
running man in silver with a copper fedora and a nugold jacket with
the collar turned up. It is 4 pieces sweat-soldered together, a pin,
and I’m very fond of it though I don’t wear it.


My first piece of jewelry was a split shank silver ring with a bezel
set agate cab that I made for my girlfriend. She got mad at me on the
bus on the way to a hockey game and threw it at me, hitting my best
friend in the back of the head. Never saw that ring again.

The very first piece I ever engraved (before I started making
jewelry) that wasn’t just for practice was a copper practice plate
that I engraved for my girlfriend (a different one) on which I had
done a series of scrolls, flowers and leaf patterns and engraved her
name, Marrium, in a very elaborate leaf script. I spent days laying
it out and even more days cutting it. When I gave it to her, I got
the speechless response I had hoped for. She looked at it, and looked
at it, and finally lifted her head looking at me with that “I’m so
touched” look, and said, “It’s beautiful, but my name is spelled
Miriam. M I R I A M.”

Hence my previous request for a graver handle with spell check. I
could have saved myself a letter.

Yeah, men are pigs.


Does the necklace I made for my mom out of cut up drinking straws
and string count? Circa 1962. I remember her and my dad going out for
the night and I pitched a fit because she wasn’t wearing my necklace.
She apologized and quickly put it on before leaving. I’m sure it went
right into her purse after they got in the car. My mom saves
everything. I wonder if she still has it…

Rick Copeland
Silversmith and Lapidary Artisan
Rocky Mountain Wonders
Colorado Springs, Colorado

I was fortunate and had the opportunity to try several crafts/arts
in high school (the dinosaurs were dead, but the mastadons still
roamed ). I still remember my first successful piece and my first
unsuccessful piece - both in the same semester jewelry class. My
first successful piece was a 2-piece cut-out moon, star and landscape
scene soldered onto a textured background. It’s still in my closet
near me as I type. My first unsucessful piece was a cast piece - an
eight pointed rayed emblem that I wanted to set a pearl in the
center of. Although I tried numerous times, I simply was unable to
get the metal hot enough to get a full casting. I gave up. I may
still have the shards of that dismal experiment. I can say that I
still have bad feelings for casting and have been a fabricator ever

Sandra Graves, Beadin’ Up A Storm
Stormcloud Trading Co (Beadstorm)
Saint Paul, Minnesota USA

The first piece I made was a sterling silver ring with a very dark
green (almost black) jade cab I cut myself.

The ring was made from ~1.5mm square wire and cold formed and solder
(the ring looped up and formed the seat for the stone to which the
bezel was soldered. I still have it although I don’t/can’t wear it
anymore as I made it when I was 15 and my fingers are much bigger

I still look at it and marvel that a rank newby can do this kind of
work with little instruction. The design is one I still look to from
time to time.

Cheers, Thomas Janstrom.
Little Gems.

My first pieces were made from beads and shells, and I no longer
have any of them. The first soldered piece was done at a summer camp
when I was about 15. It was a silver ring with a cutout cross on top.
I still have it… had forgotten about, it actually.

My high school did not have jewelry classes (even though we had
roaming mastadons ), so I had no chance to explore further. A shame,
really. I wish more schools would include jewelry in their offerings.

Beth in SC

Thanks Dave for a great laugh this evening. I loved your story. I
think my first piece was a hammered pendant with a cut out weeping
willow type tree design. Not very good by anyone’s standards. First
lesson in my first class was piercing. That class got me started - I
learned the basics of just about everything I still do today and
fell in love with jewelry making.

Thanks to whoever started this thread - its fascinating.


My very first piece of jewelry was an opera length necklace of moss
agate and “pearls”. In 1998 I had been lent a vintage piece to wear
with a particular outfit and it was gorgeous. I spent the night
examining it and thinking “this is just strung beads I could do
this!” Well I learned a lot about jewelry and sources trying to
recreate that Edwardian piece! My knockoff is close but nothing to
truly compare. Beads, wire, chain maille, hand tools, a creme brulee
torch, and ten years later I’m finally free to begin metalsmithing
and fabrication. Orchid, by the way, was instrumental to all of the
above, including some incredible jewelry purchases.

Chris Lehmkuhl

A band made from a silver quarter using a spoon for a hammer; a
great project for any 10 year old kid.

J Collier
Small Scale Metalsmith